June 26, 2012
Three 'hall of fame' examples of job-search creativity
At a time when almost every resume in existence seems to trumpet "creative problem-solving" skills, the question remains: Why does there seem to be so LITTLE creativity applied in the average person's job-search routine?
I'm not asking this question rhetorically. I really want to know. Despite millions of Americans being between assignments right now, I'm surprised by how few examples there are of people who are thinking outside of the box and trying unconventional approaches to getting hired.
Are such maneuvers perceived as too risky or embarrassing by those on the hunt? Are job hunters too stressed out or beaten down to attempt unorthodox tactics? Or, at the end of the day, is the reality simply that creative job-hunting methods don't usually work -- and that's why we don't see more of them around?
In gearing up for an upcoming talk on the subject, I've been hunting high and low for examples of individuals who have decided to employ guerrilla tactics in their job search -- those who go beyond the standard drill of sending out resumes to want ads, contacting recruiters and networking with a few acquaintances. And even with the entire Internet at my disposal, the examples of such behaviors are still few and far between.
Let me share a few "hall of fame" examples of the types of creative approaches I'm talking about.
Example #1: Last fall, aspiring marketing professional Matthew Epstein decided he really, really wanted to work for Google. He created a comical video you'll find on YouTube that explained why Google should give him a shot. It's definitely worth a watch. And it worked. I guess the powers-that-be at Google just couldn't resist the phony mustache.
Example #2: Early last year, unemployed sales professional David Wood decided he'd had enough of conventional job-finding methods and that it was time to differentiate himself from the pack. As a result, he decided to auction himself off on eBay to the highest bidder. You can see a copy of the advertisement he ran on theSirona Says recruiting blog and learn more about the steps he had to go through to pull it off without violating eBay's terms of sale.
Example #3:Lastly, in what I feel is the gold-medal example of self-marketing genius, an out-of-work copywriter named Alec Brownstein was trying to figure out a way to land an interview with several top New York advertising agencies. When all traditional efforts failed, he had a moment of inspiration.
Realizing that even a top advertising executive would likely "ego-surf" once in a while by running a Google search on his or her own name, Alec spent $6 to buy thepay-per-click advertising rights to the names of the top five creative directors he wanted to work for.
When these people eventually typed their own names into Google, an advertisement would pop up on the side, pitching his credentials and instructing these people to contact him. It worked: His gambit landed an interview with two of his top five desired targets and ended up leading to a job with Young & Rubicam.
Now, in fairness, the examples above are pretty extreme and might perhaps best be left to those folks seeking jobs in highly creative fields such as advertising or marketing. For the rest of us, we may need to tone it down a little. But I'm still hoping to find more stories of people who have successfully job-hunted to a different drummer and tried something unusual or unconventional to get themselves noticed by employers.
As always, I'd welcome your thoughts and comments on this topic. In my next posting, I'll share a list of guerrilla-marketing tactics I've come up with that some job hunters may want to consider if they're ready to mix things up a little. Stay tuned!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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